30 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Volunteers Join Luneta Cleanup Drive







EcoWaste Coalition volunteers encourage the public not to litter at the festive inauguration in Luneta of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay. Among those who took part in the anti-littering and cleanup drive were the representatives of the Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice, Ang NARS, Cavite Green Coalition, Diocese of Imus Ecology Ministry, Earth UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, Sining Yapak and the staff of the EcoWaste Coalition.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

28 June 2010

Litter-Free Inauguration: A Test for Environmental Citizenship

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting clean, healthy and safe environment, today made a last ditch effort to encourage people attending the June 30 inauguration in Luneta of President-elect Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) not to litter.

“Our support for P-Noy should go beyond flashing the ‘Laban’ sign and wearing yellow shirts. We need to exercise environmental citizenship and strive to think and act green, now more than ever,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Environmental citizenship, the EcoWaste Coalition explains, is an affirmation that we, the people, are part and parcel of a larger ecosystem and that each and everyone has the obligation to preserve and protect the environment upon which the future of our society depends.

“We all need to take action on behalf of Mother Earth,” Alvarez pointed out.

The auspicious inauguration of P-Noy this coming Wednesday provides a great opportunity for the people, especially among Noynoy’s campaign volunteers and supporters, to show off their environmental citizenship by keeping the historic Luneta clean.

“We do not want to see a repeat of the widespread littering that tarnished the huge rally and concert by then presidential bet Noynoy Aquino and his ticket last May 2 at the People Power Monument on EDSA,” he said.

"Kung hindi tayo maninindigan laban sa pagkakalat ay malamang na magmistulang dumpsite ang Rizal Park at gayundin ang Quezon Memorial Circle, at ang mga litrato pa ng basura ang pag-usapan at malathala sa mga pahayagan," Alvarez said in Filipino.

“Let us all commit to a litter-free celebration this time by taking full responsibility for our trash and by picking up after ourselves. Let this be our first shared commitment to the change that we all seek,” he said.

“Not littering, not tossing cigarette butts and chewed-out gums, not spitting and urinating in public are simple acts of environmental citizenship that will go a long way in fixing our mounting sanitation and hygiene problems,” Alvarez emphasized.

Aside from not littering, citizens can lessen the climate impact of the inauguration by walking, cycling, carpooling or taking mass transport to Luneta to cut on vehicular emissions.

The tens of thousands of inaugural attendees, including the VIPs, should really consider carpooling to reduce air pollution as well as not to add to the anticipated traffic and parking woes, the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

By exercising environmental citizenship, the EcoWaste Coalition says, we help P-Noy in realizing his avowed commitment to protect the environment during his six-year term of office.

“Lalabanan natin ang sinumang wawasak sa kalikasan,” P-Noy declared in his famous political ad “Hindi Ako Magnanakaw” where he laid out his social contract with the Filipino people, including his pledge to fight against environmental foes.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition will join government personnel and volunteers from other civic groups as well as schools in the post-inauguration cleanup in Luneta.

27 June 2010

"P-Noy, protect us from toxic chemicals"

Yellow-clad members of the EcoWaste Coalition in celebratory mood today staged a “People’s Walk” to welcome the imminent change in government and to press on with their twin advocacy: Zero Waste and Chemical Safety.

Some 150 people paraded through Quezon Avenue, from Santo Domingo Church to the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Quezon City, unfurling a huge yellow banner measuring 3 meters by 6 meters that says “P-Noy, protect us from toxic chemicals.”

The “People’s Walk for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety President” drew enthusiastic participants from the Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice, Alaga LAHAT, Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Atsitra ng Kalikasan, Ban Toxics, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Diocese of Kalookan Ecological Ministry, Earth UST, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance - Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Malayang Tinig ng mga Kababaihan sa Komunidad, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Quezon City Public Library, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.

As if to remind P-Noy of the country’s waste and chemical woes, the green advocates also brought with them a scary “Toxic Monster” in black costume complete with the familiar poison logo of skull and crossbones.

“This walk for a cause expresses our shared hope that P-Noy will rise up to the health and environmental challenge and take concrete action against nasty chemicals to prevent their adverse effects on children and other defenseless groups,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The next six years, starting with his first 100 days in office, provide P-Noy with a unique once in a lifetime opportunity to push for waste and chemical reforms that must be acted on or missed. P-Noy is our best hope for a toxic-free future and I’m optimistic he will not fail us,” he said.

Recognizing the special vulnerability of children whose bodies are still developing, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed that P-Noy put high on his agenda the required action against chemicals of global concern such as lead and mercury that can damage the brain and cause low IQ, mental retardation and developmental delays.

“Giving priority consideration to children’s safety and health from toxic chemicals will surely endear P-Noy to all kids and theirparents. More importantly, we can have healthier and happier children by putting their best interests first,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Dizon cited several specific action points that P-Noy can do to prevent chemical exposures and injuries, especially among children:
- eliminate lead in paint
- declare all schools mercury-free
- ban the importation, sale and use of mercury thermometers
- ban phthalates in toys, school supplies and other children’s articles
- enforce all tobacco control measures, including graphic health information on cigarette packs
- ban cyanide-containing silver jewelry cleaners
- enforce environmentally-sound management of all hazardous waste

The EcoWaste Coalition further asked P-Noy to translate the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) into a national chemical safety policy framework and action plan.

Adopted in 2006 by governments, including the Philippines, SAICM is a global policy and strategy to protect human health and the ecosystems from the harms caused by exposure to toxic chemical substances.
Chemical safety, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, is internationally acknowledged as a key element of any strategy to achieve sustainable development, eradicate poverty and disease, and improve public health and the environment.

The proposed national chemical safety framework and action plan should embrace the principles of 1) precaution, 2) substitution, 3) no data,no market, 4) polluter pays, 5) public’s right to know, 6)environmental justice and other applicable principles, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed.

- end -

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

24 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions against Unsafe Disposal of Batteries

Quezon City. “Do not throw spent batteries in the regular trash.”

This is the advice of a public interest environmental network campaigning for chemical safety in an effort to discourage consumers from mixing spent batteries, especially miniature button cell batteries that contain mercury and other toxic metals, with usual household discards.

Button cell batteries are small, light-weight and silver colored batteries in the shape of a button or coin that are commonly used in wrist watches, pocket calculators, hearing aids, pace makers, bicycle speedometer, cameras, children’s toys and games and other portable electronic devices. They come in various sizes and those with added mercury such as alkaline manganese, silver oxide, zinc-air and mercuric oxide can contain as much as 5 to 25 milligrams of the toxic metal.

“By ensuring that spent batteries are separated from typical discards and managed separately and safely as required by law, we prevent these hazardous materials from being thrown or burned in dumpsites and thus avoid mercury from being released into the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“Sometimes bad things come in small packages,” said Dr. Joe DiGangi, policy adviser of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN). “Mercury button batteries look small, but their toxic cargo can irreversibly damage the brain. Their toxic content has captured the attention of the world as global mercury treaty negotiations move forward to eliminate all human sources of mercury.”

The EcoWaste Coalition drew attention to the toxic threat from improper battery disposal following a mini-survey confirming that spent batteries that potentially contain mercury and other toxic substances are commonly disposed as if these were benign regular waste.

A random survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition’s “AlerToxic Patrol” from June 21 to 23, 2010 involving watch stores and repair shops in Metro Manila shows that spent button cell batteries are generally thrown into the regular waste bins, which in turn are hauled into the dumpsites.

The watch stores and repair shops are located in Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo and Sampaloc in Manila and in the commercial hubs of the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Malabon, Navotas, Pasay, Quezon and Taguig, in the municipality of Pateros and also in Angono and Cainta, Rizal.

Of the 70 watch stores and repair shops surveyed, most said that spent batteries are by and large tossed in the bin. However, silver oxide batteries are often kept and sold to recyclers for as much as P350 per camera film canister. It is not known under what conditions the silver-containing discarded batteries are recycled.

All surveyed shops offer non-mercury button cell batteries such as lithium batteries. However, consumers will need to watch out for “fake” items that are sold cheaply. While alkaline button cell batteries are also available, it is not clear if these are mercury-free due to insufficient product information.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the eco-advisory as part of its mission to create public awareness on the health and environmental hazards of mercury-added products, promote mercury-free alternatives and drum up support for the environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing waste.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition had on several occasions raised the problem with the unregulated disposal and recycling of spent compact, linear and circular fluorescent lamps containing mercury, a toxic metal that can damage the brain and the nervous system and can bio-accumulate in fish and other marine species.

To reduce mercury pollution and human exposure from improper battery disposal, the EcoWaste Coalition has identified several action steps that consumers can do. These are:

1. Go for button cell batteries that are mercury-free such as lithium. Some mercury-free batteries will have the "0% Hg Cell" mark.

2. Read carefully the product safety precautions and instructions.

3. Keep batteries out of children’s reach as they pose a choking hazard.

4. Put spent batteries in a sealed childproof container to prevent accidental ingestion.

5. If swallowed, promptly see a physician.

6. Label the container with “Toxic: Batteries with Mercury” and keep in a cool, well-ventilated dry place for temporary storage.

7. Do not handle corroded batteries with bare hands. Use rubber gloves.

8. Do not throw spent batteries in the regular trash.

9. Do not burn mercury-containing waste as the mercury will vaporize and pollute the air.

10. Do not dump spent button cell batteries to prevent the discharge of mercury into the air, water and soil.

To fully address the problem with battery waste disposal, the EcoWaste Coalition further urges the battery industry to switch to clean production and to put in place take back systems for their products at the end of their useful lives.

-end

22 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Urges P-Noy to Put Closure on Two-Year Old Maritime Tragedy

A waste and toxic watchdog has joined the public clamor for the immediate removal of the wretched MV Princess of the Stars that sunk off the coast of Sibuyan Island, Romblon Province two years ago.

In solidarity with the Sibuyan people, the EcoWaste Coalition threw its support behind the latest plea made by the Our Lady of RemediesParish in the municipality of San Fernando and the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) on the occasion of the second anniversary of the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars on June 21.

Fr. Noel Sixon and the Sibuyan ISLE on Monday scored concerned private companies and governmental agencies for failing to keep their promise of retrieving the remains of the victims still trapped inside the sunken ship and the removal of the ship itself from the coast of the famed Sibuyan Island.

“We join the people of Sibuyan in urging the incoming Aquino government to rectify the great injustice committed against the people of Sibuyan and Mother Nature by issuing an Executive Order that will hopefully lead to a righteous closure of the toxic maritime tragedy,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
The Executive Order should cause the completion of the retrieval operations, including the recovery of the bodily remains of the victims and their decent interment upon proper identification, and ensure just compensation for all victims, environmentally-sound removal of the ship and exhaustive cleanup of the Sibuyan shores.

“The long overdue removal of the MV Princess of the Stars is causing untold suffering to the people and environment of Sibuyan, which has earned the distinction of being called the ‘Galapagos of Asia’ for its rich biodiversity,” he pointed out.

As described by Rodne Galicha, Coordinator of Sibuyan ISLE, a partnergroup of the EcoWaste Coalition, “garbage washed ashore has transformed the seashore into a virtual dumping ground.”

Aside from the huge containers of rotting cigarettes and other products stocked along the coast, Sibuyan ISLE reported that a company contracted for the initial retrieval operations had built three pits for waste disposal in Barangay Taclobo, San Fernando, contravening the local government's directive not to leave any trash in the vicinity.

"The dumpsites are in clear violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act, which both forbid open dumping to prevent environmental pollution," Alvarez noted.

“We earnestly hope that P-Noy will give high priority to resolving this still evolving human and environmental tragedy during his first 100 days in office. The families of the victims and the people of Sibuyan have suffered long enough. Tuldukan nawa ni Noynoy ang kanilang paghihinagpis,” he added.

Last June 12, the EcoWaste Coalition, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Pesticide Action Network called on the Arroyo government to enforce a "return to sender" order for some 10 metric tons of endosulfan that were removed from the capsized MV Princess of the Stars in October 2008 and are now stored in Bulacan Province.

At the insistence of the environmental health and justice groups, the inter-agency Task Force MV Princess of the Stars led by then Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista ordered the return of the highly toxic pesticide back to its Israel-based manufacturer.

-end-

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

19 June 2010

"Keep P-Noy's Inauguration Simple and Litter-Free" - EcoWaste Coalition

With the presidential inauguration just around the corner, a waste and pollution watchdog raised a real threat that could turn the propitious event to herald political change literally ugly.

The specter of Luneta littered with trash spurred the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 100 groups pursuing Zero Waste, to call on the general public to strive for a litter-free inauguration of the country’s 15th President.

With tens of thousands of people expected to witness the historic event, littering is going to be a major problem, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

“Let us demonstrate our respect for P-Noy and his commitment to ‘doing the right things’ towards a transformed nation by taking full responsibility for our discards during and after his installation. Please keep P-Noy’s inauguration simple and litter-free that we all can be proud of,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“A litter-free Luneta augurs well for the Aquino presidency and our nation’s continuing quest to build clean and toxic-free communities for our people,” he pointed out.

“The mass recital of the ‘Panata sa Pagbabago’ that will form part of the inaugural ceremonies should immediately translate to a collective action of not littering, picking up the trash and leaving Luneta spick-and-span after the rites. Luneta and the whole country for that matter is not a dumpsite,” said Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that soon after his inauguration P-Noy will launch and carry out an effective public campaign in the next six years to combat littering, an environmental offense, that has undesirably become a national culture of sort,” he stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public that R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act explicitly bans littering, an offense punishable by a fine of P300 to P1,000 or 1 to 15-day community service or both.

Towards a litter-free inauguration, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the general public to observe the following simple eco-tips:

1. Put your discards into the designated bins or bring an extra bag to carry away trash that you may be lured to leave behind in Luneta.

2. Bring your own water in reusable jug to avoid buying bottled water or “palamig” in one-time use plastic cup or bag.

3. Refrain from patronizing food sold or served in Styrofoam, return used food wrappers and utensils to the vendors and never litter them anywhere. Better still bring your own “baon” in reusable containers and keep them for future use.

4. Do put chewing gum in a bin after you’re done with it or put it back into the wrapper if there is no bin close by.

5. Don’t toss cigarette butts on the ground. Better still refrain from smoking or quit for keeps.

“We also recommend that the event organizers shun confetti, fireworks and balloons at the inauguration. In cooperation with the park management, we hope they will put up adequate portable toilets and separate waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in the assembly area,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Furthermore, we urge concerned groups to refrain from distributing leaflets and similar materials that will most likely end up as litter as we have seen in past election campaign rallies and during the polling day itself,” it said.

“If this cannot be avoided, we urge those who will do so to ensure that they will pick up all littered materials after the inauguration,” it added.

-end-

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

18 June 2010

One step forward for PCB-free Philippines 2014


Dr. Mohamed Eisa of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)-Vienna and Director Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) head the multi-stakeholder team that visited on 17 June the ongoing construction of the Non-Com POPs facility in Mariveles, Bataan. The facility is the cornerstone of the project to safely and ecologically eliminate the Philippines' stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) through non-combustion technology. Comprising the visiting team are representatives from UNIDO, EMB, PNOC Alternative Fuels Corporation (PAFC), NGOs, and IPM Construction.


EcoWaste CoalitionUnit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.Quezon City, Philippines+63 2 441-1846ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

15 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Urges DepEd to be at the Forefront of Zero Waste Value Formation and Practice

Quezon City. At the outset of the new academic year, an environmental network called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to turn the entire school system into a dynamic hub where young Filipinos can learn about Zero Waste as a way of life.

In a statement released in time for the reopening of classes, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the DepEd to assume a leading role in spreading the Zero Waste value among students in theory and practice.

“Next to our homes, the schools provide the best training grounds for instilling ecological awareness, responsibility and action among our kids, especially in preventing and reducing waste,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“If DepEd will be able to pass on the Zero Waste value to the country’s over 23 million students, we’ll have a formidable army of earth-loving Filipinos who will shun wastefulness, including the irksome habit of mixing, littering and burning trash,” he added.

“By starting them young on how we can avoid waste and manage our discards in a way that will not degrade and damage the environment, we can have better chances of implementing Republic Act 9003,” Alvarez said.

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001, among other features, requires comprehensive waste segregation at source, waste avoidance, waste volume reduction and the ecological management of discards such as reuse, recycling and composting activities, excluding waste incineration.

For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, drew attention to the need for a Department Administrative Order (DAO) on Zero Waste.

“Through a DAO or any equivalent instrument, DepEd can formalize an agency-wide directive that will ensure a systematic awareness-raising on Zero Waste and its practical enforcement within the school system,” Sison said.

“The DepEd policy should incorporate Zero Waste in the curriculum, classroom and extra-curricular activities, establish an Ecological Solid Waste Management Program, evaluate and track progress towards the Zero Waste goal at the school level,” she said.

According to the “Guide to Zero Waste Schools” published by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a school-based Zero Waste program should aspire to:

1. Promote and inculcate ecological awareness, action and commitment among stakeholders.

2. Push for school policies and programs that will avoid and reduce the generation of wastes and toxics, and prevent climate change.

3. Implement the best practices in ecological solid waste management, including materials substitution, reuse, repair, recycling and composting.

4. Support safe and sustainable livelihood and enterprise for school and community recyclers.

Every member of the school community has a role in promoting and advancing Zero Waste, the EcoWaste Coalition said, stressing that the cooperation of all stakeholders, including the students, teachers, parents, school officials, janitorial, maintenance and custodial staff, canteen operators and vendors, and suppliers, is essential to make it work.

-end-

13 June 2010

Mercury Found in Hairs of Treaty Negotiators

A hair monitoring test involving delegates, including a senior Filipino environment official, at an intergovernmental meeting to negotiate for a new mercury control treaty has affirmed mercury contamination in humans.

At the UN meeting held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 7-11, hair samples were collected from 45 government delegates from 40 countries, including the Philippines, eight representatives of NGOs and indigenous peoples, four Swedish politicians, and one Swedish Olympic athlete.

Organized by the International POPs Elimination Network and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the hair test generated broader awareness among delegates about mercury levels in the body and drew media attention to the global mercury treaty.

“The survey illustrates the need to tackle the mercury problem because mercury is present in all of us and it shouldn’t be a part of our bodies! To eliminate all sources of mercury, I and the Swedish government want an effective global legally binding instrument on mercury in place soon,” said Mr. Andreas Carlgren, Swedish Environment Minister, one of the hair test participants.

“The test results only reinforce the need for collaborative efforts, locally and globally, to control mercury pollution from human activities and protect our environment, our food supply and our bodies from such a toxic threat. As a fish-eating nation, we have so much at stake in pursuing a treaty that will safeguard our marine staple foods,” said Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Environmental Management Bureau, another hair test participant.

The survey found mercury in all of the 58 hair test participants. The amount of mercury in hair provides an estimate of methylmercury in the body. Fish consumption is the main way people are exposed to methylmercury, which is toxic to human health.

The survey found mercury levels between 93 ug/kg and 2956 ug/kg. More than one-third of the samples exceeded the US National Research Council mercury reference dose of 1000 ug/kg. The reference dose is a level set for pregnant women to avoid adverse fetal brain development effects.

Surprisingly, average mercury levels in people from developing and transition countries were twice the levels measured in delegates from developed countries. The difference was statistically significant.

Globally, fish is a major source of human exposure to mercury and a vital source of food. According to the UN, fish provides at least 40% of protein for two-thirds of the world’s population, including most of the world’s poor. Cooking or removing the skin does not remove mercury. Mercury is highly toxic, especially to the developing brain. The nervous system damage is irreversible.

Mercury is transformed into methyl mercury by micro-organisms in the environment. Methyl mercury then accumulates up the food chain as larger fish eat smaller ones. Due to long-range transport, high mercury levels are observed in the Arctic, far from the sources of any significant releases. This makes mercury contamination a global issue.

Mercury is released to the environment from many sources including:coal combustion, mining activities, mercury-containing products and devices, product manufacturing sites, metal refining and recycling, cement kilns, waste dumps and incinerators, contaminated sites, crematoria and many others.

Link to the hair test report:

http://www.ipen.org/ipenweb/work/mercury/hg_hair_report.pdf

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

12 June 2010

Green Groups Urge Arroyo Government to Ship Endosulfan Stocks Out of RP Now

Spare the Aquino presidency of a sure toxic headache.
Environmental health and justice groups today urged the outgoing Arroyo administration to ship out some 10 metric tons of endosulfan back to their Israeli manufacturer before President-elect Noynoy Aquino assumes the presidency on June 30.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the EcoWaste Coalition pressed for the urgent shipment of the highly toxic pesticide out of the country to prevent a potential health and environmental problem.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed last Thursday with the EcoWaste Coalition that the endosulfan retrieved from the sunken M.V. Princess of the Stars in October 2008 are still in a private storage in Meycauyan, Bulacan despite the government’s “return to sender” order.

DENR Memorandum Circular 2009-02 banned, albeit temporarily, theimportation, distribution and use of endosulfan in the country, citing the need “to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk hazards on its continued use.”

The groups made the call following the groundbreaking announcement last Wednesday by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end all uses of endosulfan.

The US EPA’s 2010 revised ecological risk assessment shows that endosulfan “can pose unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment.”

“The US EPA decision is expected to energize push for a worldwide ban on the manufacture, trade and use of endosulfan. This highly toxic pesticide has been linked to birth, developmental and reproductive disorders and other serious health impacts and deaths among farmers and rural communities in Asia and other continents, including indigenous communities in the Artic,” said toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, President, PAN-Philippines.

“We strongly urge the outgoing government to resolve this serious threat to public health and safety by ensuring the immediate shipment of the endosulfan stocks to its manufacturer, and not to leave a toxic legacy that the new government has to worry about,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.

“There is no time to waste. We do not want the endosulfan stocks to aggravate our toxic woes. Let us get rid of this dangerous agrochemical, once and for all, and not wait for a chemical disaster to strike and cause health and environmental damage,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Waste and toxic groups have earlier asked Del Monte Philippines Inc. (the consignee for the endosulfan cargo) and the government through the Task Force M.V. Princess of the Stars to return the shipment to Makhteshim Agan to prevent a possible waste disposal crisis. The Philippines has no facility for safely treating organochlorine pesticides that will not create toxic byproducts such as dioxins.

Endosulfan is already banned in more than 60 countries around the world, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, several African countries and all 27 members of European Union. A global ban on endosulfan is currently being pursued under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a UN treaty.

-end-

EPA information on endosulfan cancellation:

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

09 June 2010

Break Not, Dump Not, Burn Not: EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for Safe Management of Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste

As the international community gathers in Sweden for the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare a legally-binding treaty on mercury, a waste and toxic watchdog renewed its drive against the improper disposal of spent mercury-containing lamps.

The EcoWaste Coalition, in a statement issued from Stockholm, reiterated the urgency of putting in place a practical system for hazardous waste collection in the Philippines that will curb pollution from broken, crushed or burned fluorescent lamps containing mercury, a toxic chemical of global concern that causes significant harm to human and ecological health.


The EcoWaste Coalition, along with Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Health Care Without Harm from the civil society and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources fromthe government sector, are participating in the ongoing UN-organized meeting
on mercury in Sweden (June 7-11).

“Mercury vapor is released into the environment from the breakage of fluorescent lamps during their use or when they are disposed. When spent lamps are thrown into the trash can, they usually end up in dumpsites or landfills where they are crushed, burned, or recycled without safety precautions and thereby causing the air, water and soil to be contaminated with mercury,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“To reduce the risk of mercury exposure for consumers as well as for waste handlers and recyclers and their communities, we urge thegovernment to draw up and enforce a system towards the environmentally-sound management of discarded mercury-containing lamps, including arrangements for the safe containment and storage of collected mercury wastes,” commented Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

“The system, we hope, will also spell out the specific responsibilities of household and institutional users, local and national government agencies, and business and industry towards the environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste,” he added.

The United Nations Environment Programme defines environmentally-sound management “as taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous waste or other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against adverse effects which may result from such wastes.”

To contribute to raising community awareness on the proper management of spent fluorescent lamps, the EcoWaste Coalition simultaneously released in Manila and Stockholm its blue and yellow posters entitled“Dump Not, Burn Not Mercury Lamp Waste.”

“The posters represent our commitment to spreading information about mercury in products and promoting the ecological management of mercury-containing wastes,” Dizon said.

To protect human health and the ecosystems from mercury pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition encourages the public to abide by the following steps for safely managing spent compact, linear and circular fluorescent lamps:

1. Do not break. Handle spent mercury-containing lamps with extreme care as they can easily break.

2. Do not burn lamps containing mercury or throw them into regular waste bins.

3. Do not play with discarded lamps or leave them lying around.

4. Return spent lamp to its original box container or place in a clear plastic bag, seal and mark “Toxic: Lamp Waste with Mercury.”

5. Put the properly wrapped and labeled lamp waste into a secured place for temporary storage.

6. For increased protection against breakage, store spent lamps in an upright position and place in a covered tin or plastic container for smaller lamps or in a cupboard for linear lamps.

7. Mark the container where the lamp waste is stored with a readable warning: “Toxic: Lamp Waste with Mercury.”

8. Keep the storage area safe, out of children’s reach and away from the elements and human traffic.

9. Contact fluorescent lamp manufacturers and/or distributors to check if they have a take-back program for their spent products or suggest a take back program if they have none.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

08 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes DepEd's Probe on Toxin-Loaded School Supplies

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental anti-toxic watchdog, welcomed the assurance made by the Department of Education (DepEd) that it will conduct a probe on the toxic contents of school supplies.
Education Secretary Mona Valisno, as reported by DZXL, promised to look into the presence of health-damaging chemicals in school supplies following the disclosure by the EcoWaste Coalition of school materials laced with phthalates.

Phthalates, such as di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP, are toxic chemical additives added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic products to impart softness, flexibility and durability. Over the last few years, the European Union and the USA have banned the use of phthalates, including DEHP, in children’s toys and childcare articles.

“We urge the government to build on our modest effort to raise critical awareness on phthalates and test more PVC school supplies and other priority items that will hopefully lead to a precautionary national ban on phthalates in common children’s products,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Aside from school supplies, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed that testing be also conducted on plastic toys and other articles that are popular among Filipino children.

“Chemicals that can jeopardize the health and future of our children should not be found in school supplies and other items typically used by kids such as toys,” retired chemist Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

“We are concerned with DEHP, especially for children because it is a known endocrine disruptor that interferes with normal growth and development. It will appear from animal experiments to be a likely human carcinogen as so described by the US Environmental Protection Agency,” stated American expert Dr. Peter Orris, University of Illinois Medical Center, in a message sent to the EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition made public the result of the chemical analysis on five typical school supplies that were found to contain elevated amounts of DEHP, a probable human carcinogen.

Found to have high amounts of DEHP were a green long plastic envelope (19.881 percent DEHP), a PVC plastic book cover (18.997 percent), a PVC notebook cover (18.543 percent), a PVC plastic lunch bag and a PVC bagpack (both with 17.120 percent DEHP).

The US Congress has set 0.1 per cent as limit for six phthalates,including DEHP, as provided for under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, for any children’s product for ages 12 and below.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City
Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

06 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Reveals Toxic Chemical Lurking in School Supplies

With the resumption of classes just around the corner, the EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm bell over the presence of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP in school supplies that the group sent to the laboratory for analysis. All five samples tested positive with DEHP, a suspected carcinogen, exceeding the US limit by nearly 200 times.

Phthalates (pronounced “THAL-ates”) are toxic industrial chemicals commonly used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, softer or durable. Due to health concerns, the European Union and the United States have banned the use of some phthalates in plastic toys and childcare articles.

To draw consumer awareness about phthalates, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watchdog, bought five typical PVC school supplies from popular stores in May 2010 and had them analyzed by a leading consumer product testing company for phthalates.

From the laboratory testing conducted by Intertek Testing Services Philippines from May 24-31, 2010, the results show that all five samples tested with high levels of DEHP.

The results show a green long plastic envelope had 19.881 per cent DEHP, a PVC plastic book cover 18.997 per cent DEHP, a PVC notebook cover 18.543 per cent DEHP, a PVC plastic lunch bag and a PVC bagpack both had 17.120 per cent DEHP.

The limit for DEHP and five other types of phthalates as per US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is 0.1% of any children's product for ages 12 and under.

“Our investigation proves the presence of elevated amounts of health-damaging phthalates in products commonly used by school-going Filipino kids. In the interest of children’s health and safety, we urge the authorities to make a decisive policy action - based on the precautionary principle - against these toxic substances. In the meantime, we advise parents to patronize school supplies that are PVC-free and invite them to join us in pushing for a strong regulation that will ban and safeguard our children from phthalates,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“This is a disturbing discovery! Children are particularly vulnerable, as their reproductive systems are under development. Furthermore, DEHP is a suspected carcinogen. For these reasons, DEHP is prohibited in the EU in toys and childcare articles,” said Dr. Andreas Prevodnik, program officer on chemicals of the Swedish Society for NatureConservation (SSNC).

According to the SSNC, a partner of the EcoWaste Coalition for its chemical safety work, DEHP is a developmental and reproductive toxicant in animals, and is believed to have similar effects in humans. DEHP has effects similar to the female hormone oestrogene. Several scientific studies have found a connection between impaired male fertility and exposure to DEHP.

“First of all, the use of PVC plastics, which requires plasticizers such as phthalates, should be restricted, not the least in products intended for children. When it comes to chemicals, the SSNC also always refers to the precautionary principle. If less harmful alternatives are available, these should substitute the more harmful. A number of alternative plasticizers that appear to be less harmful than DEHP are available,” Prevodnik pointed out.

In December 2005, the European Parliament, guided by the precautionary principle, voted to ban the use of three phthalates (DEHP, dibutylphthalate or DBP and butylbenzyl phthalate or BBP) and restrict theuse of another three phthalates (di-iso nonyl phthalate or DINP, di-iso-decyl phthalate or DIDP and di-n-octyl phthalate or DNOP) in plastic toys and childcare articles, without age-limitations.

In July 2008, the U.S. Congress enacted the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that, among others, banned six phthalates (DEHP, DBP,BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP) from children’s toys and cosmetics.

Beginning March 2010, Australia adopted an interim 18-month ban on products containing more than 1 per cent DEHP by weight for toys, childcare articles and eating vessels for use by children up to three years old.

During the 14th Congress, Senator Lito Lapid proposed a resolution banning phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products, whileSenator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and her son Representative Narciso Santiago III filed bills promoting phthalate-free toys.

-end-

References:

FAQs on Section 108 on Products Containing Phthalates, US ConsumerProduct Safety Improvement Act of 2008:http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/108faq.html

European Directive on Phthalates in Toys and Children's Articles:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2005:344:0040:0043:en:PDF

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

01 June 2010

Mercury-Free: You, Me and Babies


MERCURY-FREE: Members of the EcoWaste Coalition express their support for a united global action to eliminate mercury pollution that is endangering the health of humans, wildlife and the ecosystems. The call was made in time for the upcoming first intergovernmental negotiation meeting in Sweden for a historic treaty on mercury. (Photo by Thony Dizon)

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Waste and Toxic Agenda for Noynoy's First 100 Days as Chief Executive

An environmental coalition has put forward an ambitious “Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety” that they hope presumptive President-elect Noynoy Aquino will implement from June 30 to October 7, his first 100 days in office.

At a conference held yesterday at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, some 100 participants from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao approved several action proposals that seek to advance Noynoy’s “Social Contract with the Filipino People,” particularly in the health and environmental arena.


Speaking at the conference, Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, Noynoy’s health policy adviser, reiterated Aquino’s commitment to protecting and advancing public health and environment as embodied in the “Social Contract.”

"As the People's President, I'm certain that Noynoy will warmly welcome your proposals that will help the new government in defining its priorities in terms of tangible policies and programs to adequately meet the citizens' needs for a clean, healthy and safe environment. Nasa tamang panahon tayo para makatulong sa ating bansa," said Dr. Tan.

"Noynoy can help in reversing the persistent garbage disposal crisis by directing the entire government machinery to step up the implementation of R.A. 9003 and ensuring fund allotments for zero waste resource management and enforcement activities,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the first law signed in 2001 by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has not been fully enforced as evidenced by the continued operation of some 1,234 open and controlled dumpsites and the ever growing national waste generation that, according to government estimates, will reach 13.67 million tons per year by 2010.

“Harmful chemicals affect the most vulnerable sectors that look up to Noynoy for policies and measures that will protect them from health-damaging exposure to environmental pollutants. We urge Noynoy and his Cabinet to initiate, support and fund a bold agenda for chemical safety that will benefit our children, our women and the poor the most,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Integrating chemical safety into the country’s program for sustainable development, the Coalition pointed out, is one concrete strategy that will surely lighten the health, economic and financial burdens of poor families that are aggravated by their exposure to toxic chemicals.

To demonstrate the President's resolve to put an end to our perennial garbage woes and lead the nation to the path of Zero Waste, the groups asked Noynoy to preside over one meeting of the NSWMC, an inter-agency body under the Office of the President that oversees the implementation of R.A. 9003, with all the department secretaries in full attendance.

Noynoy, the groups said, should mobilize all government departments to enforce R.A. 9003 within their respective jurisdictions, ban the use of styrofoam food packaging in their canteens and by their catering contractors, and patronize products using recycled, reusable and recyclable materials.

The EcoWaste Coalition would like to see Noynoy using the President’s Social Fund to assist local government units in the closure and rehabilitation of dumpsites, and jump start the implementation of the “National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management.”

Zero Waste advocates urged Noynoy to launch and lead a nationwide campaign against littering, the most ignored environmental offense, that is turning our country into one of the dirtiest in Asia.

In the field of chemical safety, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Noynoy to initiate - during his first 100 days in office - a multistakeholder, timebound process that will adopt a national chemical safety policy framework and action plan in line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

The EcoWaste Coalition requested the incoming President to throw his all-out support to eliminate the country's stockpile of polychlorinated biphenyls through a pioneering UN-assisted non-combustion treatment facility that will soon commence operations in Bataan.

Pursuant to Noynoy’s commitment to advance the public health, the EcoWaste Coalition urged him to ensure full enforcement of DOH Administrative Order 2008-0021 for the phaseout of mercury-containing medical devices by September 2010, and DOH Administrative Order 2010-0013 requiring graphic health information on all cigarette product packages.

Chemical safety campaigners also sought the issuance of executive orders or department administrative orders that will eliminate lead in paints, declare schools mercury-free, ensure environmentally-sound management of lamp waste with mercury, promote a mandatory “take back” policy and program for waste electronic and electrical equipment, ban the aerial spraying of agrochemicals, and implement the country's“ Chemical Accident Prevention and Preparedness Framework and Plan.”

-end-

References:
1. Number of open and controlled dumpsites: NSWMC website, last quarter data for 2009,
http://www.emb.gov.ph/nswmc/
2. National waste generation data: National State of the Brown Environment Report (2005-2007), published in 2009 by DENR and UNDP, http://www.emb.gov.ph/resources/National%20State%20Merged.pdf
EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com